March 20, 2020 / 7:44 AM / 16 days ago

Orange says networks able to handle coronavirus usage surge

The logo of French telecoms operator Orange is pictured in a retail store in Bordeaux, France, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Files

PARIS (Reuters) - Orange’s networks should be able to withstand a surge in usage as people work from home during a lockdown in France to contain the coronavirus outbreak, CEO Stephane Richard said on Friday.

“We have a network conceived to absorb considerable flows,” Richard told France’s RTL radio, adding that usage of messaging services such as WhatsApp had surged fivefold, and calls were also up.

Richard said the company was in touch with France’s telecoms regulator in case it saw a need later to limit access to entertainment sites such as Netflix to free up network space for emergency calls or other priorities. This was not a problem at present, he said.

Orange’s CEO also called on French authorities to help make more face masks made available to its staff, and especially technicians, so that they could continue working.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Sarah White; editing by Jason Neely

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